Department S 1.18 – The Ghost of Mary Burnham

Another massive disappointment, I’m afraid. It was nice to see Norman Bird, who we’ve seen in almost every episode of Worzel Gummidge as Mr. Braithwaite, in a different role, and it’s always nice to see Lois Maxwell in anything, but this is a story that doesn’t find any life until Jason King shows up about halfway through to start pointing out the answers, Sherlock Holmes-style. Sadly, it ends with a couple of absolutely massive plot holes that hadn’t been addressed, leaving us all throwing pillows at the television. And as for ghostly phone calls from beyond the grave, The Twilight Zone had made them much, much creepier than this.

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) 1.3 – For the Girl Who Has Everything

I like the decor in Jeff’s apartment. Actor Mike Pratt was a musician himself, and decided that when he’s not working cases, Jeff is also a musician, of the “Eastern mysticism” school. He encouraged the set dressers to include a guitar and some Ravi Shankar records and some posters on the wall that look like he’d gone to Rishikesh with the Beatles and that Maharishi dude six months earlier. I’ve never heard any of his music – most of it seems to have been collaborations with Tommy Steele in the early sixties – but I was actually familiar with his son, Guy Pratt, before I’d ever heard of Randall and Hopkirk. Guy has been an in-demand session player for decades, and co-wrote a great song, “Seven Deadly Sins,” with Bryan Ferry in 1987.

And speaking of sixties decor, Carol Cleveland has a small part in this one, and with her stacked hair and patterned mini-dress, it looks like she’s about to start singing “Rock Lobster” with Kate and Cindy.

Lois Maxwell and Freddie Jones are also in this one, which Donald James wrote and which we all enjoyed a lot. Jones plays a ghost hunter who can’t see Marty, but that’s okay, because somebody else in the village can. They close the resulting loophole – that there’s somebody on the outside who Marty can get messages to whenever Jeff’s in trouble – in an epilogue that’s somehow both bittersweet and very funny.